Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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RICHE, Jean Baptiste (re-shay), president of Hayti, born in Cape Haytien in 1780; died in Port au Prince, 28 February, 1847. He was a negro, and began life as a slave, but afterward joined the army of the insurrectionists, and took part in the struggle for independence that terminated in 1803 after the surrender of Gem De Rochambeau (q. v.) to the English. He then attached himself to Henry Christophe, who promoted him general in 1807, and made him his lieutenant. Riche also took part in the war against Alexandre Petion (q. v.), decided the success of the battle of Siebert, 1 January, 1807, and commanded the left wing of the army under Christophe that besieged Port au Prince in 1811. By his readiness in executing the sanguinary orders of Christophe he won the confidence of the latter, who appointed him to the command of the northern provinces, Here he followed a policy of extermination against the mulattoes, and even, to please Christophe, murdered, according to several historians, his own wife and children. Notwithstanding his acknowledged incapacity, he retained his command under the following administrations, which always found him a docile instrument. After the downfall of the party of Rividre Herard, the chiefs of the oligarchic faction of Boyer (q. v.) established a system of government which continued to elect to the presidency an old negro general, noted for his incapacity, under whose name they could rule, but, as the newly elected president, Pierrot, showed a tendency toward reforming the abuses of the administration, they organized an insurrection in the provinces of Port au Prince and Arbitonite, and proclaimed Riche president, 1 March, 1846. Pierrot endeavored at first to resist, but the defection of his army compelled him to make his submission, 24 March. After re-establishing the constitution of 1816, Riche, incited by the foreign population, proposed thoroughly to reform the administration, when, on returning from a journey of inspection in the department of the north, he died suddenly, poisoned, according to several historians, by the same men to whom he owed his elevation.
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